Texas Has Something To Show In 'Show Me' State

Remember last year's near-disastrous road trip to lightly regarded Kansas? Texas coaches are making sure the No. 2 Longhorns haven't forgotten that trip to the plains as they prepare the team for its Big 12 opener at Missouri.

It would be natural for the Horns to look past this Saturday's game and focus instead on You-Know-Who in Dallas on October 8. To prevent this, coaches this week have referenced the unexpected nailbiter in Lawrence as incentive to keep the players' fully focused on Missouri. In that one the Horns relied on QB Vince Young's late game heroics to escape Lawrence with a last-minute 27-23 victory.

"They understand that last time we went to Kansas we didn’t play very well," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "They have had great practices this week and been attentive and focused."

Of course, Brown could just have easily referenced Texas' sluggish 28-20 win over Missouri in Austin.

"We didn’t play well last year against them at home, but we were still able to win it," said Brown. "Missouri is playing great and our guys are excited about the challenge."

Part of the reason the Longhorns have been so attentive during the bye week is credited to Missouri QB Brad Smith.

"Brad Smith played great here last year, and he is playing better now than he did last year," said Brown. "So he’s got their attention."

Brown has not tipped his hand as to which running back he plans to start this weekend, because he says he does not know yet. Both Brown and OC Greg Davis said earlier this week that if RB Selvin Young (ankle) is healthy, he would regain his starting spot.

"Selvin practiced really well, and again, there was no swelling," said Brown. "We will look at it again tomorrow."

Jamaal Charles, of course, rushed for a freshman starting debut record 189 yards against Rice on September 17.

"He has just amazed us with his ability to learn the schemes and block the guys, and he has been doing it since the day he got here," said Brown.

According to the head coach, it is Charles’ non-rushing abilities that impress him the most.

"The biggest difference in Jamaal than most freshman backs has been his ability to pick up the schemes in the passing game and to block," said Brown. "So many other young backs can only run all the time."

Charles showcased this ability two games ago in Columbus.

"Ohio State had three good linebackers and I had to take them on," Charles said. "I always had to take on blocks."

If any Texas player has an excuse for losing focus this week, it's Charles. The Port Arthur native saw his family displaced this week as a result of Hurricane Rita. His family relocated to Dallas and, by mid-week, were still unable to return home.

"I know my family is thinking about me and I’m thinking about them," said Charles, "but I know they just want me to get better every day."

Texas opens conference play on the road for the first time this decade.

"This is the first time for this group, from the freshman to the seniors, that they will be opening up on the road (in) conference," said Brown. "So, it's exciting for them."

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. (Central) and will be televised by ABC.

Horns Digest Top Stories